The Unconscious Mind
The Unconscious Mind is a very powerful computer, but until now you probably haven’t been in charge of its programming and one of the best things you can do is learn how to release the old programming and install the programming you want.
Today we’re going to talk about the unconscious mind.
I think it took the Psychology profession a long time to even acknowledge the existence of the unconscious mind. That’s a bit funny now when you compare the processing power of our conscious brain compared to our unconscious brain, I think our unconscious is supposed to be a million times more capable. Not bad for something that wasn’t supposed to exist.
The way our conscious brain deals with its relative puniness is by filtering out information, distorting information, and deleting information. It’s a very poor computer compared to the supercomputer that is our unconscious. If you think about it, the unconscious does some obvious things—for example, if you fell asleep and you didn’t have an unconscious mind you’d obviously
pass away because your blood wouldn’t be pumping, you wouldn’t be breathing, you wouldn’t be maintaining body temperature, and all of that happens for you automatically. If you go running you’ll find that your body will automatically start breathing harder, your heart will be beating faster as it pumps blood around the body. All this happens for you. You don’t have to tell it what speed to beat at to help you to run faster.
Less well-known, in the mainstream anyway, is how the unconscious mind handles emotion. The unconscious is the domain of emotion, it’s where we store memories. It organizes them typically in almost a chronological order, but in clusters of similar memories, which we call ‘gestalts’. This is because it makes connections between similar things and those similarities tend to be because the emotion is the same. So you have ‘strings’ of gestalts of similar emotions going back through your own history.
The other thing the unconscious mind does with that capability—to store and organise emotions—is that it tends to repress the stuff that it thinks will harm you. Traumatic memories and other negative emotions tend to be repressed, and then they’re only brought to the surface for resolution when your unconscious thinks it’s going to be safe for that to happen.
One of the things I aim for when I’m working with clients is getting them into that psychologically safe place so we can persuade their unconscious mind that it’s actually okay to bring this emotion out and to be able to release it right now. This is one of the most important parts of the healing or resolving process.
So we’ve talked about the unconscious running the body: running its temperature, the breathing, and the bodily functions. When stuff happens to us, it responds for us automatically, and obviously it knows when to stop as well. The unconscious learns really quickly. I don’t know the exact mechanisms of some of this, but this is just from the body of knowledge that I’ve been trained in.
Another thing that we aren’t consciously aware of is that the unconscious is the domain of our habits. So if we know that the unconscious learns quickly and it’s the domain of our habits, what keeps us in bad habits is those unresolved emotions and limiting beliefs that lie in the unconscious too. If we can change those, we’re going to be much more able to change the habits we want to change.
Too often approaches tend to be ‘coping’ approaches, where they don’t actually go into the unconscious. It is much more effective to deal with the root cause, release it, get rid of it, and then install better, more productive habits for yourself that make you happier than the present unproductive habits you have right now.
Your unconscious is also what’s called a highly moral being. Obviously, it will only be moral to the values that you were taught or that you learned and accepted. Then it’s like a moral compass. This is where you get your feeling of right and wrong from; the unconscious mind.
Your unconscious enjoys serving but it needs orders to follow and one of the challenges with our unconscious, therefore, is that very often the orders we’re giving ourselves unconsciously are, at best. Unhelpful!
Another reason why you need to get rid of those repressed old negative emotions and limiting beliefs is that your unconscious will hold you to those beliefs whether you like it or not. If you think you’re no good and you don’t deserve to earn money, and that’s a sincerely held belief, your unconscious will hold you to that sincere belief until you change it. Only then can you teach your unconscious something different.
One of the other things that’s interesting— and this is back to the habits again—you probably heard at some point how many times you need to repeat something until it becomes a habit. I know there’s been experiments done with astronauts where they wear upside-down glasses and after 30 days the body’s learnt to take that image and turn it the right way up, but if they don’t do that experiment for long enough— like 29 days or something— then the image remains upside down. So, this idea that you need repetition to install a habit is true. That’s what the unconscious needs; it needs repetition to help it learn and to help install the habit.
It’s also said that the unconscious maintains and controls all our perceptions, both regular perceptions, that you and I would talk about, and telepathic perceptions that I’m less sure about! I don’t think I’ve had any conscious experience of a telepathic perception, but maybe that’s like thinking about your mother and then your phone rings and it’s your Mum. Perhaps it is better to say I don’t claim any expertise in telepathic perception.
You may have heard people with the NLP training saying, “the basis of perception is projection”. In layman’s terms, we are tinting our own spectacles. We see the world we want to, and that when we want to see something different we will. Science confirms this. Einstein talked about not trusting an experiment because the result would often be influenced by what the scientists wanted rather than it being completely objective.
So how it works is that your own preconceived ideas lie in your unconscious mind and then come to your conscious brain to literally tell you what to do. You might have seen a video I’ve done called the five backseat drivers of life; these are the things literally controlling you in the background that much of the time you’re completely unaware of. So if you want to empower yourself it’s very important that you become aware of your own backseat drivers. Your own preconceived ideas and your own perception, stored in your unconscious, guide your decision-making, your choices, and your behaviour in your conscious life.
The last thing I’d like to say about the unconscious mind—and this is something in my practice as a coach I use all the time—is the fact that the unconscious doesn’t really handle negatives. Now, what do I mean by that? So if you said to somebody “don’t walk”, the word that would be remembered is the subject—walk.
There was an example of a politician being accused of beating his wife and so the politician starts saying well of course It’s ridiculous to say that I beat my wife. I would never dream of beating my wife. All we’ve actually heard is beat my wife. so it’s the subject of our thoughts, not the polarity of our thoughts which is important.
It’s very important that we choose the subject of our thoughts. Instead of deciding that I don’t want to be poor, it would be much more productive to want to be wealthy. Now I’ve changed the subject of my thought from poverty to wealth. The subject has changed. Then your subconscious acts to influence you and help you notice opportunities that bring you what you want, choosing what you want based on subject, not polarity again. so it’s very important that you choose the positive towards the subject that you want and you’re much more likely to notice opportunities to bring that into reality.
You still have to take the action of course, but your awareness is now tuned much more carefully to what you want. I noticed clients telling me that things that in the past they would have seen as obstacles, they’re now able to see the opportunity in those situations. They couldn’t have done that in the past.
In summary, the unconscious is a very powerful computer, that until now you probably haven’t been in charge of its programming. One of the best things you can do is learn how to release the old programming and install the programming you want. It is that which will help you achieve the life that you want.
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